Who am I?
Not many people can answer this question succinctly. Areas of our world get blurred as time goes on. We transition between life stages: different relationships, having children, experiencing loss, aging. We may not realize it but what makes us who we are can actually change. Years go by and the person in the mirror may begin to seem like a stranger.
“How did this happen?” “Who have I become?” “Where is the old me?”
These are all normal questions in the quest of identity. Panic ensues as we realize we have lost confidence in who we are, which can lead to a lack of hope, purpose, or drive.
While many may attribute this listlessness to a “midlife crisis”, it is certainly not unique to that phase of life. As someone who sees a lot of teens in the counseling room, the struggle exists from early on and can continue to transform as time passes. Not being able to easily answer the seemingly simple question of “who am I” can cause tremendous anxiety. Who we want to be can seem out of reach.
It seems we can become a different version of our self around different people. Our school persona differs from our behavior in social settings. A confidence at work can morph into an insecure home life. How do we create consistency, predictability, and ultimately safety?
In a world that feels out of control, hear this, you can be in control of you. When the rage ensues and you feel there is no other option than to hurl insults, you don’t have to. When you slink down in your chair and can’t muster up the courage to go to that commitment, you can. The reality is you cannot control those around you. You are not responsible for the words, thoughts, or actions of others. BUT, you are responsible for you.
In claiming that responsibility, you can begin to assert what your morals, beliefs, and personality do look like. There is freedom here. You get to control what comes out of your mouth, what you put before your eyes, who you allow to influence you. Take hold of this truth and begin to believe that understanding and change is possible.
We are often our own worst enemy. We need that unbiased insight, that outside perspective of our current struggle. A counselor should be so much more than the meme you see of the often condescending highbrow who asks “how does that make you feel?”. Find that counselor who is willing to invest, who can ask the hard questions, and who can challenge you to reach deep within and find who you were always meant to be.
Change is possible, hope can be restored. You can approach the question “who am I” and you can be proud of the answer.
If you want to take a deeper look at any of this and to have someone walk beside you – give us a call to set up your first appointment. We’d love to help.
~ written by Jill Jackson, therapist here at Authentic Connections Counseling Center